Review byTatum Stafford
With a tagline like ‘We did start the fire’, it was clear we would be in for a memorable performance as we entered the Blue Room Studio.
The set was sparse, but sparked intrigue – the space was littered with leaves and contained a park bench (which would later be revealed as a slick Notting Hill reference), a microphone on a stand and a stool.
As the show’s writer and performer Katie McAllister made her way onto the stage, her poise, likeability and stage presence was immediately captivating. As she told a few anecdotes about her early childhood, and in particular, her journey with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the audience was clearly engaged and ready to hear more about her life and the people and places that have shaped it.
The show revolves around Katie’s upbringing in the regional town of Denmark, and her ongoing passion for climate change awareness to protect the place she loves so dearly. We learn that Katie was once an emergency broadcaster, who, in her words, “would be the one interrupting your cricket match.”
Throw in Katie’s love of the classic rom-com Notting Hill, a few hilarious jabs at fellow Denmark local Tim Winton, and a clear admiration and respect for a few key female figures (Nigella Lawson and Jacinda Ardern, to name a few), and this tale slowly morphs into a memorable road trip down Albany Highway to reach Denmark.
Production Designer Clare Testoni did a fantastic job conveying the show’s themes via projection, on a large sheet of fabric that stretched across the top half of the set. Documentarian Sophie Minissale provided captivating video content that served to emphasise the peaceful locations of Katie’s road trip, and Lighting and Sound Designers Kristie Smith and Georgina Cramond worked effectively to give the show’s ‘Watch and Act’ emergency broadcast recordings necessary emphasis and a sombre tone.
Props also to the show’s powerful direction from Michelle Endersbee; the show is paced really well, and does a really effective job in finding much-needed moments of levity amongst the difficult and heavy themes to navigate in an hour-long performance.
Despite the somewhat heavy and complex themes at the show’s forefront, this piece of theatre was incredibly heart-warming and enjoyable to experience. If you can get tickets, I’d highly recommend heading along to hear this powerful story.